I sometimes feel like an outsider.
Scratch that; most of the time I feel like an outsider, but in this particular instance, I feel like an outsider even within the community I am ostensibly a part of.
I’m a writer. But I don’t want to be a writer. As in, I don’t want to write as a career, or rely on writing for my primary source of income. I don’t want to quit my day job and devote my time to novels and stories and poetry.
I like being a hobbyist. Weird, right?
I used to think I wanted to write full time. I used to think that was what I wanted to do with my life, before The Thing Inside of Me reared it’s head, but even discounting the Thing, forgetting about the struggles I have with writing now, I just… really love what I do for a living.
How blessed is that? How incredibly lucky am I? I stumbled into this job a year after college, and it has become an almost decade-and-a-half long career that I not only enjoy, but in which I am shown respect and given value, and at which am good — I mean, genuinely good. So many people long for what I have, why would I give it up?
Especially when my work is not at odds with my writing. I can write on my downtime at work, I can write when I come home (I’m out of work at 2:30), I can write on the weekends. And I can write for myself, for pleasure, for the joy of writing, because I have no pressure to make a sale, or meet a deadline, or please anyone else, really.
And that’s not to say that I can’t write with purpose. I can write a targeted article for a publication or a poem for a ‘zine. I can shop pieces around. I will never make a living at it or be “big,” but that’s not an aspiration I have any longer. Open mics and local events are good enough for me. Small blog zines and pamphlets passed around at cons are fine. I respect people who make the dedicated push to be a writer as a full-time occupation – it’s demanding, and difficult, and requires a huge amount of devotion, patience, and courage – but I don’t share that ambition.
But that also doesn’t mean I’m not a “real” writer. I’m not a “professional” writer, sure; that accolade is reserved for people who have made that commitment. But I’m still a writer, so long as I write. My work is capable of having just as much merit as anyone else’s. My work – the actual writing produced – is not necessarily lesser just because it is not borne of a full-time writing career.
I’m young. I’m also the primary breadwinner in my family at the moment, with a mortgage, a young child, and a job that I love. Maybe, someday in the future, when those situations shift and change, my attitude towards pursuing writing as a career will likewise change, and I will take the leap.
But that does not mean what I produce before then is worthless. It doesn’t mean I am lesser. And it shouldn’t mean that I don’t belong in the community.*
*To be clear, no one in the blogosphere has ever said to me, “you don’t belong.” This is entirely an internalized sense of misplacement based on the fact that almost everyone I run into online has aspiration to be a professional writer, and I don’t.